One of the most frustrating challenges that a parent of a teen can face is if their son or daughter is battling depression. Most teens will go out of their way to avoid talking about this problem with their parents out of fear and shame.
Troubled teens don't always outwardly show the signs of their problems. In many cases, teenagers are more likely to withdraw from friends and family members if they are having emotional problems rather than address their issues. This is especially true when teens are dealing with depression. Fear and embarrassment frequently can lead them to shun people who could give them the help they need to regain control of their lives.
Because adolescents are often unwilling to communicate their feelings when battling depression, helping troubled teens is a difficult task. This is made even more frustrating when you consider that depression has a different impact on teens than it does with adults. According to HelpGuide.org, teens are more likely than adults to be irritable, angry or have fits of rage if they are dealing with depression. This can lead adults to back away instead of pushing ahead to help teens confront their problems.
One of the most troubling effects of teen depression is substance abuse. Surveys have shown that teens who deal with depression are far more likely to experiment with and become addicted to drugs and alcohol than other teens. Illicit substances can offer teens a brief feeling of happiness, although usually followed up by an even stronger feeling of depression than before. This cycle can land teens in residential treatment centers and start them on the path to a lifetime of substance abuse problems.
If your son or daughter is dealing with depression, it's important to talk to them in a straightforward manner, making sure they understand that you are not judging them and that they have your unconditional support. A first step in the process could be visiting their doctor in order to perform tests to determine if the depression has physical causes. If this is the case, medicine or other treatment could solve the issue without the need to search for troubled teens programs.
If the issues are more than just physical, it's important to work with a therapist or child psychologist to determine the right course of action. Therapy and medication might be the answer, or your teen could require staying in one of the boys boarding schools that deal specifically with teens fighting depression.
Keep in mind that ADD/ADHD teens are usually more eager to be accepted into social circles and are also more likely to engage in risky behavior like drunk driving, dangerous sexual activities, trying out drugs and alcohol, and others.
It’s during these times in an ADD/ADHD teen’s life that they need a more steady hand guiding them at home. Now, more than ever, rules need to be clear and straightforward. Sit down and talk to your teen if necessary, in order for you to explain why the rules are important.
The “why” behind the rules are oftentimes taken for granted, which is never a good idea. As much as possible, keep the rules short and concise to avoid confusion and to make it easier for teens to remember them. Keep a copy of these rules (including social rules or those you expect them to follow outside the home) in several spots at your house.
After reiterating the rules to them, get ready for these rules to be broken. Yes, your teen will often break this rules, consciously or not. When they break the rules, respond to the situation calmly and rationally. Teens can be emotional, but ADD/ADHD teens are given to extreme emotional reactions. Responding to the situation emotionally adds fuel to the drama without resolving anything.
The adolescent years of ADD/ADHD teens is also the time for parents to learn compromise and negotiation. Teens will want to spend more time away from home and they will ask for their curfews to be extended and for certain additional privileges.
Listen to them, take their concerns into consideration, and compromise when you think it is wise to do so. If you have other concerns that will lead to disagreeing with your teen’s request, it’s important to take the time to explain to them why you are putting your foot down on the issue. Don’t just say “no” without explaining why.
Here are 5 tips for parents of ADD/ADHD Teens
1. Encourage your child to maintain the habit of keeping a planner and a calendar.
2. Help your teen make lists of the things that they need to do at home and in school. Don’t make the list for them. Let them work towards being self-sufficient in terms of wanting to be organized.
3. Give your teen plenty of opportunities to talk to you. Having daily conversations with your teen during dinner and setting aside some quality time with them weekly develops the habit of communicating with you. Your teen will be a lot more comfortable talking about his/her new daily struggles if talking has become natural between you.
4. Reinforce the need for healthy food and getting plenty of sleep. Because of the physical changes and the added activities of teens, it’s very important that they keep on eating properly and sleeping in time to keep the symptoms of ADD/ADHD under control.
5. Keep working with your family physician to ensure that the physical changes going on inside your teens are properly handled. If your teen has been taking medication, it’s good to talk to your family physician and see if the hormonal changes will affect the dosage needed to fit your teen’s current needs.
Teenage ADD/ADHD and Driving
Teens often ask their parents if they can get permission to drive the car by the time they are 15 (in some states, the age when you can get a learner’s permit). Keep in mind that ADD/ADHD teens may need more time to hone skills related to being a responsible driving than their peers who have no ADD/ADHD.
It’s important to let your teen show that they are ready for the responsibility before allowing them to drive, rather than let their age dictate their readiness.
Teens and Bipolar Disorder?
Typically, the symptoms of bipolar disorder show up during teenage years and early twenties. In rare cases, the symptoms can show up during early childhood. The behavioral patterns of adults with bipolar disorder can be different from those of children.
People with bipolar disorder go through episodes of depression and mania, extreme lows and extreme highs. These are mostly periods of extreme mood swings that have wide arches. People with bipolar disorder are often excessively happy or excessively sad. Here are just a few symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Symptoms of Mania:
- Talks too fast
- Train of thought seems to race
- Has trouble sleeping
- Have delusions of grandeur about one’s self
- Extremely impatient
- Oftentimes displays aggressive and impulsive behavior
- Makes reckless decisions
- Has trouble focusing on one thing
Symptoms of Depression:
- Prolonged melancholy mood
- Prolonged loss of interest in usual activities
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Inability to appreciate pleasure
- Suicidal thoughts
- Prolonged loss of appetite
- Feelings of lethargy
These periods of mania and depression can last for months or weeks and in some cases, people with bipolar disorder alternate between manias and depressive episodes in one day. Because of the effects of the mood swings that they experience, bipolar teens often turn to alcohol and drugs to take the edge off what they are feeling.
Some engage in dangerous activities for the adrenalin high. However, doing these things will actually make the symptoms worse in the long run and can make it harder for doctors to diagnose that they have bipolar disorder.
How Can Parents Help a Bipolar Teen?
When parents see the symptoms of bipolar disorder in their teen, the first thing that teens need to feel from them is acceptance and support. It can be quite frustrating to live with teens that have bipolar disorder, but it’s not something that can get better just by deciding to feel better. It’s not something that can be solved by sheer willpower.
There is no cure for bipolar disorder, although there are treatments that can help control the symptoms. Like other incurable medical conditions, bipolar teens need to work closely with their doctors and therapists and have a clear teen bipolar treatment plan in order to manage the disorder better.
This treatment plan includes medication and therapy. Teens on bipolar medication must report any changes that they are feeling at any point because the hormonal developments they experience during the adolescent years can affect the way their medication makes them feel.
In order to provide support for their bipolar teenagers, parents are also advised to seek therapy and to educate themselves about the disorder. This helps them put the disorder into perspective and learn ways on how to deal with this as well as how to create a home environment that is conducive to managing the symptoms of the disorder.
In order to help teens with this disorder, parents need to be patient and to constantly make the effort to encourage their teens. Teens need to be able to talk to their parents about their challenges. Parents are also the best people that can help their teens understand more about their disorder and have hope that treatment can help them feel better.
Teens with Eating Disorders
Eating disorders affect more than five million Americans each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. More than 90 percent of those afflicted are adolescent and young adult woman between the ages of 12 and 25. If your daughter is suffering from an eating disorder, such as anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating, it is important to provide her with the right treatment plan in order to prevent it from worsening or causing serious health problems.
While overcoming an eating disorder may seem challenging, the good news is that treatment is available. There are many effective teen rehab centers or residential treatment centers specifically designed for people with eating disorders. These types of centers offer customized treatment plans that can help patients manage symptoms, regain a healthy weight, and maintain their physical and mental health.
Unlike wilderness therapy programs or other short-term programs, residential treatment centers provide long-term treatment with trained and caring professionals such as doctors, dietitians, and psychologists. For example, psychological counseling plays an important role in overcoming an eating disorder.
According to the Mayo Clinic, psychotherapy can help teens exchange unhealthy habits for healthy ones, monitor treatment goals, develop problem-solving skills, learn how to cope with stressful situations, improve situations with others, and improve mood. Dietitians and other providers are also very helpful in combating eating disorders. Dietitians can help teens understand how nutrition affects their bodies and can help them establish regular eating patterns while taking steps to avoid dieting.
Take the time to research numerous residential treatment centers or therapeutic boarding schools to find the one that is best suits your child and family.